You might not know who Porcelain Black is right now, but once you've heard her raspy voice and dance pop sound and seen her gothic look, it'll be hard to wipe her image or songs out of your head. Though her crown of glory is reminiscent of Cruella de Vil, she looks more like Portia Del Rossi meets Gwen Stefani in toned-down Marilyn Manson gear.
The 25-year-old Detroit native is opening for Lil Wayne on his "I Am Still Music Tour." She worked with Weezy on her new single, "This Is What Rock and Roll Looks Like," which is many musical miles from the industrial sound of Porcelain and the Tramps, her first act. Weezy's a fan of "rock"; you might remember his own poorly received excursion into the genre with Rebirth.
Black's upcoming album, tentatively named Mannequin Factor, was produced by RedOne, known for working with Lady Gaga. The artist just appeared for the first time in front of a national television audience on the Late Show With David Letterman and made her movie debut on the South Florida set of Rock of Ages. Certainly, all this time in the spotlight makes the young lady nervous? Not so much, according to what she told us when we spoke about her recent adventures on set and tour.
New Times: Your recent song features Lil Wayne, "This Is What Rock and Roll Looks Like." Did you feel like you had a good chemistry with him?
Porcelain Black: Yeah, definitely; he's super chill, awesome. We met first just to see how we hit it off or got along, and we hit it off and became friends, and we ended up doing the song. It was cool; it was good. He's really easy to work with, to get along with; we like a lot of the same kind of music.
It must have been pretty neat getting to know him. Do you have any funny stories about making the video?
Well, I was kind of like fucking with him a little bit. In the scene when we're coming out of the auditorium doors, I was like, "Wait. So this is what we're gonna do. We're going to start walking toward and through the cheerleaders and then I'm going to get on the ground and crawl through your legs and blah, blah, blah." And he was like, "Uh... OK." [laughs] I would do crazy shit to fuck with him because he's always like, "Yo, P. you're crazy, you're crazy." That was funny because he's like supershort and his pants are really baggy; it'd be really hard to crawl between his legs, and I'm like five-foot-ten, probably like six-two, six-three in heels. We tried it once, but it didn't work out, but we were all laughing about that.
This tour is going to be kind of huge. Are you nervous about it?
No. I already did the first part of the tour, so this is like the second time. The first time I was nervous and stressed out. I just feel really good and excited about this tour. We've got new dancers, new choreography; the look's going to be really cool. I'm just happy and excited to see everybody again. It's all the same people on tour. It's like one big family, and we all get along so well. It's almost like rock 'n' roll/rap-star summer camp.
Do have a favorite song you like to perform that people really connect with?
I really like doing "Mannequin Factory," but I think for this tour, I am most excited about doing "This Is What Rock N Roll Looks Like" because there's a DJ that did a remix to my song that's like a supercool dubstep, and we're putting that part of the remix in the bridge. There's like a really powerful, dope, dark, Manson-y, industrial breakdown in that where we're just like dancing and singing. It's pretty dope. So I'm most excited for that song.
You're planning on doing a song with Eminem ("How Do You Love Someone," which isn't confirmed). You're both from Detroit? Is that something that connects you?
Yeah. I grew up with his little brother. I'm really, really good friends with his little brother. I've known him forever, I still talk to him, Nathan.
Your current sound is different from Porcelain and the Tramps, more pop sounding, more highly produced. Do you personally prefer the harder sound of your former act?
I like them both, but I definitely like what I'm working on now, because it's funner -- you can dance to it more. It's not so negative. It's more positive. I'm definitely just focusing on Porcelain Black right now. I like my new music, and I want it to be more universal and everybody to find something about it that they like. The Porcelain and the Tramps stuff was more like definitely just one genre; just the little industrial, goth kids liked it, and I wanted to do something more universal.
What do think working with RedOne added to your sound?
We went in, and I talked to him, I explained my vision. I wanted to do a Britney Spears meets Marilyn Manson kind of thing. Everyone else I told that to before was like, "You're fucking crazy. What are you talking about? I don't get it." And when I went in with him, he automatically got it. So that was very special, and he's a genius on top of that when it comes to music. He's the best, as far as his production goes, his melodies. We just clicked when we write together. I think that's really special. You can write with tons of people, and some people you click with and some people you don't, and with him, it was just easy, and that's how it should be.
Do you write your music?
I write all my music. I would never sing anything that I didn't write. I don't believe in that. That's not the kind of artist I am.
Do you play any instruments?
Yeah. I play piano.
How'd you get your start performing and playing?
I played piano since I was little. I started writing lyrics when I was probably like 8, 9, 10 years old. My dad was super into music. It was something I always knew I wanted to do. So, I'm doin' it!
Can you tell us anything about the filming of Rock of Ages in South Florida? Did you have any cool experiences doing that? Did you learn anything about South Florida that you liked?
I've always loved Florida and Miami. I always go there on my vacations, like after a tour, I go to South Beach for a little bit. Rock of Ages, that was a crazy experience. I'm just so happy, grateful, and honored that I got to do it. I got to meet and hang out with Tom Cruise and Russell Brand, Adam Shankman. He's like one of my favorite people ever. He's so funny, I love him; he's just one of those people I automatically click with. That was cool. We got to go to Gloria Estefan's house and have a big cast party dinner on Star Island, and that was just like, oh, my God, this is crazy! Just the whole experience was awesome. It was my first part in a movie ever, so it was kind of surreal. I was like, wow, this is dope.
Who are your major musical influences? Like top three? Who influenced you growing up?
Nine Inch Nails. AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Oasis, Hole. I loved Aaliyah growing up. I'm not sure if she influenced my music. Our music is completely different. I listed to a lot of that. The first two CDs I ever bought were Oasis' What's the Story Morning Glory? and Hole's Live Through This.
You have a distinctive look. How'd you come up with the look you're sporting right now?
I've had my hair like this forever now, like two or two and a half years. There was a Chanel runway show where the hair was half black, half white. And then I had a dream that my hair was like this, and then one of my fans tweeted me two days later, "I think you should dye your hair half black and half blond down the middle." And I was like, that's crazy because I just had a dream about it and was thinking about it. My hair's been every color of the rainbow. I've had rainbow hair. I like to do crazy things with my hair. I'm surprised I've had my hair like this for so long, 'cause I usually change it. I like it, and I'm sticking with it!
Lil Wayne's "I Am Still Music Tour," with Porcelain Black, Lloyd, Rick Ross, Keri Hilson, and Far East Movement. 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 2, at
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